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Perhaps you’d think there’d be no need to write an entire post on decorating a Christmas tree… you simply break out the Christmas decorations, chuck it all on and enjoy, don’t you!!?
Well, not over here…
Decorating a Christmas tree is something I take pretty seriously. Not only does there need to be the right ‘ambience’ in the room – Michael Buble’s Christmas album, obviously, a glass of wine or cup of tea to sip from time to time - but there needs to be a bit of rhyme and reason to the decorating process too.
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If you're as obsessive about a good tree as I am, here are a few essential pointers to bear in mind this year (and every year ever after). Oh - and check out my guide to buying a real Christmas tree if you don't have your tree yet...
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Decorating a Christmas tree: start with the lights
The lights are often the fiddliest bit about decorating a Christmas tree, and least enjoyable thing too (why are the lights always so tangled?!). But the lights are an essential element, and worth getting right.
First, test the lights before you thread them onto the tree… there’s nothing more exasperating than blown bulbs or entire strings that don’t work once you’ve got them in place.
If they're working, start to add your lights from bottom to top, winding them in a circle around the tree until you get right to the tip of the tree (or thereabouts).
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I like to nominate an unsuspecting family member to assist with this, passing the strings of lights to and from each other to speed the process up and stop either one of us getting tangled.
I like to use lots of lights so that there’s enough twinkling going on towards the centre of the tree, as well as towards the outer edges – that way the tree looks luscious and dense. Warm white lights are my favourite (and I tend to use these).
Make sure there’s enough slack on the wire if you’re going to move the tree into a different position once you've finished decorating it, and if you have a tall tree, keep a step ladder or two handy so you don’t have to throw the lights up high and hope for the best…
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Hang the big Christmas ornaments first
I’m not sure why I do this (I think it’s just a habit I’ve formed) but I like to hang the largest ornaments first. I think that’s because it helps me to make sure the tree is ‘balanced’.
When you’re decorating a Christmas tree, put larger ornaments towards the centre of the tree to give the illusion of depth, and make sure they’re on sturdy branches… especially if the ornaments are a bit weighty.
If your tree is a bit thin or bare towards the top, try hanging the bigger ornaments lower down – it looks more in proportion that way.
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Then add decorations one colour or style at a time
This helps to make sure that the Christmas tree looks well-balanced from every angle, and ensures there’s not a pocket of red shoved to one side, or too much gold somewhere else, for example.
It’s also a handy trick to use if you’re a bit short of decorations… hanging baubles and ornaments by colour or style means you can see exactly how much you have to work with.
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Hang your smallest, twinkliest decorations near the ends of branches
Smaller decorations are best placed towards the outside of the Christmas tree as that way they won’t be swallowed up into the centre. I like to put them right towards the edge as if they’re dripping off the branches.
And, I like to slightly tweak the position of the lights afterwards to just ensure they’re close enough to make the decorations glisten and glimmer too. Super pretty!
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Walk around the Christmas tree from every angle it will be seen
Pay attention to the angles that are going to get the most observation.
For instance, if your tree is in your living room, make sure your decorations look fantastic when you’re sitting on the sofas and armchairs. If you can see your tree from the street, nip outside to check it looks good for passers-by, too.
Finally, keep stepping back to observe the tree from a distance while you’re decorating it. Every so often I take a few steps back from the tree just to see how it’s shaping up, as it’s a bit hard to see what needs changing when I’m up close.
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